Tuesday afternoon head coach Charlie Weis and quarterback Dayne Crist met with the media as Kansas approaches their first game week of the 2012 season.
Kansas Head Coach Charlie Weis
On the progress of TE Mike Ragone:
"The best part is that he is healthy. That is probably the first time going into a season in an eternity for him. I think that he is healthy, he is not limping, he is a very stout blocker at the point of attack, who has some receiver skills, which should help us both in the running game and the passing game."
On the running backs on the depth chart:
"I think Tony (Pierson) will be first and Taylor (Cox) will be second, just the way I said last week. I think (Brandon) Bourbon is a close third. That would be the one, two and three. I see it going that way until No. 29 (James Sims) gets back into the action, but that is not until week four. Marquis Jacksonhas been getting some reps too, but we have had plenty of reps to go around, trust me. Practices have a lot of plays so there has been no shortage of opportunity as far as reps go. As we go into this week, it will be pretty much the same. All four of them will probably get reps, but in that order."
On position battles:
"Most of them are settled. There is a little gray area with a couple guys that got here really late. I would say that 90 percent of the depth that you will get next Tuesday is already done. They know if they are still fighting. They know how close it is, they are not blind. They can watch the tape and see, who is getting better than the others and who is getting more reps because of it. I think when you go by that objectivity form of analysis, playing guys just based on performance, it makes things a heck of a lot easier. You would hope that you would know who you are going with. I think the one thing that happens in training camp is you don't get a ton of continuity because you are rolling guys in and out so much. It isn't just rolling ones and twos and threes. Now you start rolling ones and one A's. `If something happens to this guy, who is going in.' You see Gavin Howard playing right guard and right tackle for example. Is Gavin Howardgoing to spend the majority of his reps at right guard, or is he going to be at right tackle? On the first depth chart, he and (Randall) Dent will be listed at right guard, but he will also be listed as a potential left tackle. In the first game you could see Gavin playing right guard and right tackle."
On the battle for No. 2 quarterback:
"Why don't we talk about the No. 1 quarterback. Why do we need to talk about the No. 2 quarterback? What difference does it make who the No.2 quarterback is? We are playing No. 10 (Dayne Crist), let's talk about No. 10. Right now Michael (Cummings) is ahead of Turner (Baty). He is ahead of him and if we were playing a game this week Michael would be No. 2. He has just played better."
On how the running and passing games are coming along:
"I feel good about both of them. I am not supposed to say that when you are coming off a 2-10 season, but I feel pretty good about both of them. I feel pretty good about the running game and the passing game."
On the offensive game plan for the first game hindering the defense:
"What we are doing has nothing to do with the defense as of this week. We compete against each other, only for the speed of the game. When we go offense against defense from here on out it is just to practice the speed of the game. It has nothing to do with scheme. It is just making sure that good are going against good, so that you don't slow down. What has happened with this influx of people, pretty much the way I told you, not only has the competition gotten much greater on defense, but the pace of practice has picked up considerably? The tempo with which they are practicing at, because Coach Campo has been emphasizing running to the ball and hustling to the ball and showing effort. It has been a pain in the butt as the offensive coordinator, it has gotten tougher as the camp has gone on, because they have gotten better as the camp has gone on, which is a good thing. As the head coach, that is a wonderful thing."
On designing a game plan:
"We are game planning now for Sept. 1. I think we have already talked about what we have to do to beat South Dakota State as a staff. I think that is the first thing that we do, we say, `what do we have to do to win this game.' I don't tell the players that, we do it as a coaching staff. `What do we need to do to win this game? What gives us the best chance to win this game?' We have already done that and now we go ahead and game plan accordingly. If it meant to slow down the pace to a meticulously slow pace, then that is the pace that we would go at. Remember, whether you are huddling or not huddling, there is no rule that says you have to snap it quick. You can go up to the line of scrimmage and snap it with one second to go. The 40 second/25 second clock is the same clock whether you are huddling or not huddling. It is the tempo with which you snap the ball that really dictates the pace of the game."
On the play calling process:
"It depends first of all, where you are playing. When you are playing at home there is a lot more versatility than when you are playing on the road. Mainly because when you are on offense the fans allow you to verbally communicate at a relatively easier task. I would say right off the bat (Dayne) will have a lot going on right from the start."
On Dayne Crist's communication with the offensive line and the receivers:
"I think that is when you first get here. Now it is everybody. Now it is the whole group. At first it is the first maybe 15 guys that you play with. As the starting quarterback you have maybe seven offensive linemen that you see in your huddle and you might see three different tight ends, you will see a couple different running backs and you might see four or five receivers that you see in your huddle at different times. I think that he has communicated with all of them right now as we start pushing forward and getting closer to games."
On DL Ty McKinney:
"There is good news and there is, I wouldn't call it bad news. The dean in charge of his program has been talking to our academic people regularly. It looks like this is going to happen way sooner than later, even though it is already later from our perspective. He is sitting there and as soon as they grade his material from class they will free him up to take his exam. All the material has been done now for awhile, but all the material has not been graded yet. So the dean of the school has been very helpful with encouraging the professor of the one class that we are waiting on to finish grading the material, so he can take the exam, so he can come. That is the good and bad news. Once school starts there is no longer any acclimatization periods. So that means that if he got a phone call five minutes from now, you could take the exam today and be done in a hour and a half and he would be on a plane on his way here tonight. We are in an any day mode, because he is ready for the exam, he just has to get clearance to go ahead and take the exam. As soon as he takes it he can come. As soon as you complete the course work, you are allowed to come. There is a grace period from the NCAA waiting for them to finish grading the exam. He could go ahead and come immediately following the completion of that exam. It could be today, it could be tomorrow, but our academic people have been wonderful talking with the dean of the school, who understands that we started school and we are in class now. What we can't do is have one of our young men come in and get behind academically. Forget football for a second, let him get settled into his class schedule."
On QB Dayne Crist:
First of all, it is not all positives with me when it is a practice in case you are wondering. I just believe that the place to coach the quarterback, as far as mistakes go, is on the field. That is why I make the games almost easier for the quarterback, because I coach them hard in practice so when the time comes, the games are easier. I think that right now he is looking forward to the games starting. I am being a tad bit sarcastic when I say that, because in reality he is ready to lead the team and get out of this training camp mentality grind and get into a normal routine. Believe it or not, the happiest people around here are the athletes who are in training camp. When school starts you get into a 20 hour work week and you go away from that endless 6 o'clock in the morning until 11 o'clock at night routine and get into that four hours a day, four days a week, one hour on Friday and three hours on Saturday and that is it. That is the work week. I think they are happy to get to that point."
On the receiving corps coming out of camp:
"As I told you, there are a lot of candidates. Some of them have been a bit of a surprise moving up or moving down. We all know about the three seniors and they have had a nice camp. I have talked about (Kale) Pick, because he has had an extraordinary camp, but Daymond (Patterson) has had a good camp and (D.J.) Beshears has had a good camp and then there are a lot of other candidates that we feel good about. I feel good about Chris Omigie, I feel good about Andrew Turzilli, I feel really good about Tre' Parmalee. I kept saying that for awhile and everyone thought I was just throwing a name out there just for the heck of it, but he has played himself into contention to legitimately be playing. When I brought him in here, I looked at him in his house and I said `that guy is a redshirt.' Then you go out there to practice and that is not the way he has played. Everyone will tell you the same thing, from the starting quarterback right on through. All he has done is make plays all the time. That doesn't mean that it ends at six guys, but I am using him as an example. You bring him in and he is 170 pounds soaking wet and you figure okay let's sit him down for a year and let him develop, but he has just made too many plays. He has made them in the return game, he has made them at receiver, he makes them every day."
On what WR Daymond Patterson has done during camp:
"He's one of the top guys we have. He's dependable. He gets open. He's a reliable pass catcher. He catches the ball with his hands, not his body. I mean, he could be a dynamic punt returner. I'll end up probably listing him first, but you won't use him and take one of your top receivers, and as many times as they punt a game, put him at risk every single time. That's the type of questions you have to ask: the risk-reward factor, but he's been one of the more dependable guys all through camp and he's already got some ability. He basically was off last year in reality, so it's really good to see he's back and ready to go."
On a theme for the week before the season:
"I think we'd better get off to a fast start or we're going to have a long year, and I think everyone else wants to look at the 12-game schedule. I want to look at one. I have a one-game schedule, and it's South Dakota State. It's been a little while here since we came and in the first game of the year we had a very convincing performance, and that's what my intent is in the opening game: to let these guys get out there and have some fun and play hard and make plays and let the fans get into the game and let's see where it goes from there, but I really think that my number one message is take them one at a time and put everything into just playing your best game against South Dakota State and do not worry about any other team and do not listen to anyone talk about any other team. The only one we want to talk about is South Dakota State."
On LB Anthony McDonald's status and LB Ben Heeney's adjustment to moving to MLB:
"First of all, Anthony has been well-documented as having been spending time early in practices most of the time with Brian Maura hanging out at the bicycles over there, because he's had a track record of a list of things he's got banged up on and we want to make sure that when he's going, we want to make sure he's a full go ready to go because he only knows one way to play. He's one of those guys that, tackle to tackle, will hit you as hard as he can possibly hit you. That's the only game he knows. There's no passive game in how he plays, so he's got to be turned free to go ahead and play that game, and some of the things we do that's not the game you're playing. You can say, "Well when wouldn't you play that way?" Regarding Ben Heeney, when he's moved into that position right there, he's got a lot of athleticism. Last year, you saw him make a lot of plays on special teams. When you can make plays in the open field on special teams, usually it's a true indicator that you've got yourself some athleticism, and I think he's responded really nicely to that position."
On how Dayne Crist has adjusted to playing in Lawrence:
"He really likes it here. Remember now, the kid hasn't had the best few years here now. Just when he's getting ready to be the man the head coach gets canned, you come in, new system, you don't fit and it didn't go so well. Now you're back into the system that you did fit with, decent skill guys around you, with veteran offensive lineman in front of you, with a team that you come in and everyone thinks is going to be crummy. That's a pretty good situation. How could he lose? There's only one way to go and that's up, right? But look at the upside. Let's look at that end of the spectrum. The upside is through the roof. This could be a wonderful story and I'd like to be writing it. Not for me but for him, because I'm a very, very big fan of the young man."
On how Dayne Crist can get better:
"He can get better in a lot of different ways. I think that trying not to be the coach. Sometimes the quarterbacks who play in the system try to be too cerebral and sometimes they have to be reminded that they're the player, not the coach. Try not to do too much, in other words. Just do what the play tells you to do, don't try to do too much. The other day, there was an audible that we haven't run here. We went out in practice, and there it was, and he checked to it, and we ran it for about 30 yards. And I about started laughing, I saw what he was doing, there it was, and I'm talking into the headset, "He's going to check to this." And Ron (Powlus) goes, "No," and I said, "Ron, I'm telling you what he's doing. He's checking to this." And there it was, and he checked to it, and we ran it to the left side and it ran for about 30 yards. No one on the team had had that discussion yet. We've had it, but that was three years ago, so it was good to see. They all knew the play that was running because they had heard the name of the play before, but the fact that he can get you in it, that's important. He can say, "Hey, that one's not working, but this one is working pretty good."
On if everyone has bought into his program:
"If they weren't they wouldn't be here anymore. I think that that was the important thing. I think that there were people that were against you and I think there were people that were on the fence. Those people on the fence can go either way. They either can join you or go against you and I think that right now... I think the only ones that are disgruntled right now are the guys that really want, not that they're anti-you, but they want to be playing. Who doesn't want to be playing? You want them to want to play. You want them to be upset that they're not playing, but you also want them to suppress that ego where they go this isn't about them, it's about the team. If they were playing the best they'd be playing."
Senior Quarterback Dayne Crist
On if he's anxious for the first game because of how he's coached in practice:
"Going back to the comment he (Coach Weis) made, on game day it's about the players. It's about guys going out and making plays. It isn't about him yelling at us or trying to get us motivated, because if you're not motivated at that point, there's nothing he can do on the sideline to adjust that. At the same time, there is a ton of coaching to be done all week and that's what he spends the whole week doing. He's not just yelling to yell; he's yelling to get his point across and to coach guys up and get the most out of everybody. Myself, in particular, at this point of the year you're just so excited for a game. You're just sick of going against the same guys in practice, the same colors in practice all day, every day. You're getting ready, because we're transitioning into the more game preparation and things like that. It's an exciting time and I know the guys will come to practice this week and next week, and the whole season for that matter, with a great deal of preparation as their mindset, and just a great deal of excitement."
On if that approach makes the games seem easy:
"It's one of those things where you go out and play and there's a time and place for conversation on the field during practice versus on the field during a game. When it's in practice, you just keep your mouth shut and take your coach's criticism and then you talk about it in meetings or somewhere else because there's not a lot of time for that during practice, but during games it's a much more calm approach. Guys look to him (Weis) when things may not be going right, or it's a crazy point in the game, so you're looking to your leader, to your coach, to really show you what identity to take on as a team, and he always is the even-keeled same guy all the time. That's something good on game day that you can kind of take away from him and look to him for comfort."
On Crist's impression of the receiving corps' talent:
"I've been very impressed with those guys at receiver. As a corps, they've all worked hard during camp--all spring and all camp. They continue to try and do everything they can to improve and it's very comforting as a quarterback to know that you've got a lot of weapons at your disposal in that receiving corps."
On which running backs have made life easier so far:
"I think all of them. I think just as a corps they've got a lot of experience. They're all playing really well. They all do things differently, but they all find ways to help us on the field, so it's great, again, knowing that you have a diverse group that can all make plays."
On what Crist is looking to get better at right now:
"Consistency for me is the biggest thing. I know that doesn't help you in any way, but as a quarterback, you've got to be consistent. Obviously, it's understood that you want to play at the highest level and you want to make all the plays and do everything perfectly and aspire for perfection. There are certain days where you do that better than others, but it's bringing those together, stringing those practices together to make it a good week and stringing those weeks together to make it a good season and stringing those games together to make it a good year. It's a process that you take one play of football, and Coach Weis talks about that all the time, but it's treating each play like it's the most important thing in the world. There's nothing else that matters at that point in time, and in doing that, you take a period in practice. If you do that on every play, you have a good period. If you do that every period, you've had a good practice. Just continually trying to build consistency, not just using it as a buzzword, but really creating that mindset and making that part of your game."